For anyone who liked action cinema in the eighties Dolph Lundgren will always have a special place in our hearts, even if he did kill Apollo Creed. An absolutely enormous specimen of humanity (especially standing opposite tiny little Sylvester Stallone) he may have started out as a spiky blonde killing machine but by the end of Rocky IV as he found respect for the Italian Stallion so we found respect for him.
Lundgren may have never have had the career of fellow European beefcakes Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jean Claude Van Damme but even after the underrated (or overrated, it is hard to tell) stab at the big league Masters of the Universe, Lundgren has never stopped working. Looking at IMDb he has 84 credits to his name. Don’t Kill It maybe his latest vehicle to be released but he has nine movies coming up since completing this one. Nine. The guy never stops.
If anything Lundgren had grown into his looks as a B movie star. He may well be 59 but he still has the body of of a man half his age, and unlike some of his other peers he clearly hasn’t had any surgery so his face has a cool weathered look to it. I’m not saying he’s Clint Eastwood or anything but… okay I’m saying he’s a Swedish Clint Eastwood. Fuck it.
Don’t Kill It casts Dolph as a mean Southern demon hunting cowboy. He sleeps in his truck and has an unhealthy relationship with his modified, web-shooting shotgun. He also knows a thing or two about capturing demons, having done it since he was a lil’ boy with his pa. What’s great here is that Lundgren actually has a fairly decent stab at doing a southern accent which he just about pulls off. (Did Schwarzenegger ever try to do any accent other than his own?) Lundgren’s character is as old fashioned a trope as you can get, all one liners and fingers up to authority. His only nod to the modern world is the pipe he smokes is electronic, and even then he seems to smoke it in peoples faces to annoy them.
The twist of the tale is in the demon itself. It can possess anyone who has just killed the body it is currently possessing. Hence the one thing you can do is the title of the film: Don’t Kill It. This makes for a tricky situation if the demon turns up and started killing everyone else in the room.Fortunately nobody listens to Lundgren’s advice and we are subjected a huge amount of violence as the demon attacks people with axes, chainsaws or whatever is to hand and then gets shot by a local or a policeman, then possesses them and carries on the mayhem. If this was the real world here it would certainly be an argument for tighter gun control. So many Toms, Dicks and Harrys pull out their piece to down the killer demon that Lundgren can barely keep up with who the demon is inside next. Of course if this happened here in good old Blighty all this would be solved in about five minutes – a smack round the back of the head with a good old trusty truncheon and we’d have that demon doing bird in time for tea.
Lundgren is partnered with a female FBI agent who is cynical at first but is soon fighting alongside him and it occurred to me that what we have here is basically Lundgren Vs The Evil Dead rather than Ash. It even has a cabin in the woods that looks almost identical. Evil Dead nods are no bad thing. Especially when director Mike Mendez embraces so many practical gore effects. They are very much of the quick cut from live actor to rubber head exploding variety but what self regarding horror fan doesn’t love that? There are a few less successful visual effects but we can forgive them for that. This is horror action on a budget, they’re doing the best the can. The dialogue isn’t so great. There is far too much of it for one thing, although that’s not a big surprise in low budget film making. However, structurally the script is solid, building up to a decent and satisfying climax.
Look, this isn’t a masterpiece, it’s a throwaway bit of Saturday night fun. But if you’ve always wanted Ivan Drago to do battle with the evil dead whilst smoking a pipe and doing his best to sound like he comes from Mississippi, then Don’t Kill It is the movie you’ve been waiting for.